Clemens “Ardek” Wijers is best known as the lyricist and songwriter for the Dutch symphonic black metal band, Carach Angren. On July 26th, he will be releasing his second solo album, Parasite Twin. His first solo album Worlds was released in 2017. Wijers started playing piano at the tender age of 7, followed by 8 years of keyboard and music lessons at his local art school. In 2002, he studied for a year at the Tilburg Conservatory to refine his skills while continuing to compose music. After several band incantations, he formed the symphonic black metal band Carach Angren with his friend and former band mate Dennis “Seregor” Droomers on vocals and brother Ivo “Namtar” Wijers on drums. He writes a large portion of the band’s music, using classical music as both a foundation and an inspiration. After five albums with Carach Angren, they continue to achieve widespread success and gain new fans wherever they play. I got a chance to listen to the new EP to review and was super excited to see what the mind of Clemens Wijers came up with next.
- Machine (Memoirs of an Algorithm): The song has a nice dark industrial sound to it, like a dark rave, almost. As if it could be used as the intro to a horror movie. The song deals with the protagonist of the song reflecting and confessing the systematic and gradual decimation of his victims. It makes for a great opening track and sets the mood.
- Parasite Twin: The album’s title track and the catchiest song on the album. The song was inspired from a true story about a man who had surgery done on him and was found to have a mass living inside him complete with hair and teeth. The story is mixed with both horror and comedy elements. The song once again has an industrial metal sound. You can hear the comedy elements in the song when the protagonist complains about his “twin sister” always wanting the opposite of what he wants even including the lyric “bla blah blah and meep meep meep” clearly mocking his sister’s bickering. The catchiest song on the album that will have you playing the chorus in your head all day.
- Nightmare: The sound on this reminds you of something Nine Inch Nails would come up with and it’s amazing. An industrial, yet haunting sound. My favorite part of the whole album starts at 1:45 when it’s just keyboards, guitar and drums. It gives you that feeling of doom and being chased in an endless nightmare.
- Fucked Up: Another Industrial track that sounds like something Nine Inch Nails would come up with, but with a horror twist. The song also has a dance music vibe that could be played at a goth dance club. Very fun to let loose to and dance.
- Closing In: The album’s closing song. The story revolves around the inner world of a stalker, an idea that came to Wijers after a past experience. A rather chilling story to go along with the catchy chorus and dance music.
To listen to the single Parasite Twin, click here.
To preorder your copy of the EP plus his other solo album Worlds, click here.
Interesting in his horror metal band Carach Angren? Check out photos and review of their Los Angeles show from last October by clicking here.
Still hungry for more? We sat down for an interview with the man himself!
-CC: What was the easiest part about making the album? And the hardest?
CW: The interesting is that I never planned to make this EP. After I came back from touring in December with CA, I started working on new Carach songs but also different songs, possibly for other artists. At one point in March I had so much new stuff that I really felt the urge to release something. Then I listened to one of the songs I had already recorded in a good way (the single) and thought that the vocals I had temporary put on the track were not so bad. I kept working on some other tracks, added vocals and during the process I got more and more excited so I decided to make the EP. The challenging part for me was to not put a lot of different arrangements into the songs, I wanted to keep them more compact and “simple”. Also, I took on the whole production myself so I learned a lot about production. I upgraded my studio equipment a lot and that helped me make the mix really big and punchy.
-CC: What was your inspiration behind the story of the album? Were you out on tour looking for inspiration? Or did you sit down and let it come to you?
CW: This time there is not a story on the EP, there are 5 completely different tracks, both musically and lyrically. It was in that sense a nice escape from the Carach world where everything has to work together somehow. The inspiration for the title track came from a story I read about a guy who actually had a parasitic twin inside of him. It was almost like a horror story. They found teeth and some hair inside of him after many years. I wrote something down about it in my notes and when I was working on the music for this song the idea came to use this in the lyrics. Instead of making a horror song, I wanted it to be light and even a bit funny. So I started thinking about actually having another person attached to you or inside of you who is opposing you all the time and then the idea started to flow. I didn’t work hours in a row on it, I just let it flow like you suggest in your question.
The opening track “Machine (Memoirs of an Algorithm)” tells the story about an algorithm looking back on the damage it has on to us as humanity. This idea came to me after reading several books about the influence of changing technology on our psychology. One book that made a huge impact on me was “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr. The internet at first seemed to have been something that liberated us from distance and other boundaries but slowly has developed itself into new boundaries again. Social media used to be a tool that was completely free and you could reach so many people instantly. These days you have to pay to reach people, which is perfectly fine but it means the whole thing has completely shifted again. I found out about this when we were playing shows with CA and sometimes people that lived almost next to a venue we had played a week before would write us like “When are you playing here again?”. They hadn’t seen any update on the show. That’s when I realised that our news feed and everything we see is almost entirely controlled by algorithms, who show you paid ads. I myself am merely looking at these developments, I’m not opposing them or being a whiny critic. It just all fascinates me and that’s how I came up with this song. Depicting a machine confessing its carving out of humanity.
-CC: Could we ever see a tour where you play your solo albums?
CW: I would love to play these songs live somehow. I don’t have a plan for it yet but the desire is there yes.
After my first solo album I felt the urge to do something very different, not just soundtracks but make actual songs where I sing and play all the instruments.
-CC: What were the similarities or differences for the creative/writing process from your solo albums to Carach Angren?
CW: The similarities are that when I compose for Carach I usually compose the whole songs in its entirety, it’s only then that the other guys take the material and make it their own, like changing the drum patterns, adding ideas for lead guitars etc. This time I was just immediately finished after I was finished haha. Also I tried to keep things simple, work with a chorus – verse structure. I had a lot of fun doing things this way. A big influence on that was when I worked on material for Till (Lindemann) [of Rammstein]. He always suggest keeping things short, compact but super effective.
Another example in which this process differed from CA is that I worked more on the production of the songs. I think the composition work was like 30% and the mixing and arranging was like 70%. I have learned a lot on the production side of the whole thing.
-CC: Were there any movies/bands that you used as inspiration for the album’s sound?CW: During the last seven months I have dramatically upgraded my studio equipment. I now have this perfect listening environment where you sit in frond of the speakers on the sweet spot and the instruments are literary placed around you, almost 360 degrees. It wasn’t easy or cheap to reach this haha but now it’s incredible. This helped me super much to improve my mixes. Some albums that really influenced me on that aspect are Michael Jackson’s Thriller. When you listen this album on good headphones you hear all these binaural effects they have put in there. It is amazing. The same goes for Nine Inch Nails – the Downward Spiral. It’s creepy how his voice his constantly panned off center for example. Things happen left and right of you and change constantly. Also I tried to make the drums really epic, not just a metal drumkit but big Taiko drums, digitally distorted snare drums, etc. I wanted it to sound industrial, massive and almost other worldly at times. For the voice, I just gave myself complete intuitive freedom. I didn’t use auto tune or any of that. I wanted it to sound raw and only used effects like delays and stuff to enhance a certain atmosphere the tracks needed in my opinion. I had a lot of fun doing this. I also only started playing guitars in January of this year. I’m left handed so I always had this idea of buying a left-handed guitar, but somehow postponed it all the time. When I finally bought one in the end of December I couldn’t stop playing. It opened a whole new world for me.
-CC: Will there be more solo albums in the future?
CW: Yes for sure, because I can’t stop writing new material haha. It gives me new inspiration and energy to return to the writing process of CA for example. It’s like a playground for me where there are no expectations, I can do whatever I want.
-CC: How is your current tour going so far?
CW: For me personally it’s one of the best tours ever. The festivals are crazy and despite the heat wave in Europe there are a surprising amount of people showing up in the club shows, really dedicated CA fans which is fucking awesome!
-CC: Any news/updates on the next Carach Angren album?
CW: We are currently planning the recordings, the music is almost completely done. We want to start recording this fall and are looking a t a 2020 release. I’m really excited about the new material, it’s going to be different again but the CA spirit is of course entirely in there.
-CC: When not doing anything music related, what do you do in your spare time? Hobbies? Books? Movies? Art?
CW: I read a lot of books, psychology, spirituality, motivational topics. Currently I have a couple of books in my phone I re-read all the time because they influence me greatly. One of the best discoveries lately for me is “The Power of your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy. It’s an incredibly book containing so much wisdom. If you are interested in those topics I definitely recommend it.
-CC: What are some bands you’d like to play with that you’ve yet to play with?
CW: To be honest I am never focused on which bands we play with because my focus is entirely on our show. Of course when opportunities arise I always look at how it would benefit the band and the fans who come to the shows. I think as being a fan of music I would look at this question differently. I remember my first metal open air festival. It was Dynamo in 1999. I remember that seriously ALL the bands I had recently discovered played there. This was a dream back then. I could just pick up the festival booklet and move from tent to main stage and back and see them all. As far as CA I would like to play an actual stadium and bring an incredible Horror experience.
-CC: What are some of the best crowds/countries you’ve played?
CW: On this tour my favourite show so far was on Full Force in Germany. Because we played at 2 am in the tent stage and still there were many fans and they were going crazy. I watched people doing little parades in the audience on “Pitch Black Box” and had to hide my smile. It was really cool and energetic haha.
-CC: Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
CW: Thanks so much for all the support I get everywhere with both CA and my solo experiments!